Wipers - Youth of America (1981), 8/10

Greg Sage responded to the fast-paced punk movement with Youth of America, a sprawling psychedelic take on punk that boasts an over 10 minute title track and some of the most surreal punk rock of the era, simultaneously borrowing influence from krautrock and punk ideals. The deep and varied layers in this set of songs was very atypical for punk at the time, and was certainly a serious shift after Is This Real?, a fantastic but more traditional and less experimental debut from Wipers, showcasing Greg’s talent for catchy songwriting as opposed to the epic compositions that are displayed on Youth of America. The politically charged and angst-ridden narrative is all elevated by Sage's harsh emotional honesty and incredibly intimate vocal delivery. This talent for deeply personal, emotional composition is continued on Over the Edge, but here it is supported by a superbly unique set of soundscapes and a more unique and individual approach to songwriting. Every single moment on this record exudes unbridled passion and energy, mixed with dark anger that can only be produced by Sage and is accentuated by Davidson and Koupal’s droning, surreal performances. This record is one that I have spun into the ground over and over, and it will never get tiresome, partially due to the sheer variety, but more substantially because of its explosive yet consistently dazed, psychedelic appearance. You may get a different track order if streaming or listening to a different issue, but I'm referencing the original track listing for review purposes (though they all work well enough). There really isn't a weak moment on the record even in the more traditional stylings, it only builds into even more satisfying moments and constantly surprises. "No Fair" pours out so much raw emotion at such a perfect pace creates a vacuum of grief, serving as a perfect primer for the title track’s nervous but unmistakable indignation. The song is legendary and contains so many beautiful twists and turns, creeping soundscapes, and deeply emotional swells that it has surely earned its status among the best punk songs ever written. It serves as a direct and intentional counteraction against the short punk songs of the time. There is a feeling of gothic influence in songs like “No Fair” that are balanced well with optimism of the first side of the record. The album has been attributed as influential across genres, being cited by artists like Sonic Youth, Melvins, Mission of Burma, and of course Nirvana in the form of Kurt’s journal, among his top 50 albums. The record as a whole goes by very quickly, even for a 30 minute experience, but Youth of America is undeniably brilliant and forceful even in that short time.